After the Kansas City Chiefs made four selections on the second day of the NFL Draft, Scott Pioli met with the media to talk about his new players. Here are the highlights.
“We became a faster football team today. [We] picked up a number of players that meet a lot of the things that we’re looking for. As a matter of fact, along with the team speed, talking about the right fit, the right kind of guys we drafted today along with the player that we drafted yesterday all happen to be captains at the schools they played at. Overall, going back to the football character thing in what we’re looking for, we feel that these guys all fit into the mold of the type of player that we are looking for, all very different individuals but four guys that are certainly the type of player big picture that we are looking for.”
Would you say that so far this draft has been a method to address the entire team needs, such as speed like you mentioned, rather than a chance to address needs at a certain position or positions?
“I think we need to improve our team speed. When we first got here, watching ourselves on tape in preseason games and in regular season games, something we thought we saw as a difference with the other teams we were playing was team speed – overall team speed. That was one thing we needed to improve. Along with that, you want to get good football players that are fast. Again, we are trying to become a faster football team. Positionally, we got faster at positions, as well.”
Can you talk about roles for your two second-round picks, WR (Dexter) McCluster and DE (Javier) Arenas?
“Those roles will define themselves a little more clearly but as we looked at the first pick with Dexter, Dexter’s a guy who has lined up at running back, he’s lined up at receiver, he’s done some return work prior to becoming a big part of their offense. He’s lined up in the Wildcat. He’s done a lot of things and something that we talked about upstairs and something that we talked about at length with him with our offensive coaches, I think we’ve got a number of really strong offensive minds on our coaching staff. Some of what Dexter can do very well and what he is from a prototype stature-wise, he’s very similar stature-wise and skill-set wise in terms of his hands, his quickness, his speed, his elusiveness – different places that I think our coaching staff will be able to use him and utilize him in different positions on the field, different places. This staff has worked with guys like David Meggett, guys like Troy Brown, guys like Wes Welker, guys like Wayne Chrebet, again not comparing this guy to those players but a similar type of player skill-set wise. Dexter can do a number of those things and he has been a running back as well so he’s done third back, change-of-pace back, he’s been a receiver. He’s done a lot of different things and again, with this coaching staff, I think they’ll be able to figure out a number of different roles for him.”
What do you see in Arenas as well? Kick return possibilities?
“What he did down at Alabama in Nick’s (Saban) defense is he lined up quite a bit as what we refer to as the star, which is the slot corner in sub packages. So when they put multiple corners on the field, as the third corner, he lines up on the slot receiver because of what his skill set is. He matches up well with the slot receiver skill-set wise, but also that position in particular needs a very smart player. He’s a person that has to do a lot of adjusting and is the guy between the outside corner, the safeties and the linebackers so when there’s a lot of motion, when you have multiple-receiver sets, he’s going to be the person that does a lot of communicating and the other thing he can do from that position, he’s one of the best blitzing defensive backs I’ve seen in a long time. I think he had 12 or 13 tackles for loss this year. He’s had seven sacks over the last two years. He’s a guy that knows how to blitz in terms of timing. He’s a good back so his role will be more clearly defined. He’s coming in to compete for playing time but he does have the skill set and the mental capacity to be that slot player. He also brings the obvious dynamic of being a good returner. He’s been a kick returner; he’s been a punt returner. He ranks second in NCAA history in a number of different categories as well as overall kick returns.”
It seems like every player that you’ve taken in the draft so far can play somewhere else or can do something else. Was having versatility and being able to move them around important to you in this draft?
“Versatility is very important. It speaks to a couple different things. It has to do with athletic ability obviously, but I think it also has to do with intelligence. For players to be able to do multiple things, they have to know a lot. Again, whether it’s the H-back or the F-position or the Y-tight end on the line of scrimmage, an outside corner, an inside corner, Dexter playing multiple positions, OL Jon (Asamoah) started at guard for three years, but he has also played quite a bit of center in practice – we know that about him. Versatility is a very important part because it does a number of things: it allows you to save roster spots not only on the 53-man but it also allows you to make better decisions on game-day as you prepare your 45-man game-day roster. A guy that can play a couple different positions allows you to have more flexibility or have other players up for that time.”
A lot of people talk about drafting high character guys. It seems like you have really backed that up these past two days. Is that a case of wanting to build a foundation before taking on any higher-risk guys?
“I think it is an important thing for a number of different reasons. Backing up, I think one of the best things about the team that we took over was the character of this football team when we got here. I think there are a number of people on this team who are strong character guys that we inherited. Again, there are always a couple individuals in every locker room where it is not perfect, and it is never going to be perfect. As much as we try to get 100 percent perfect, when you have 53 guys in a locker room, it is never going to be perfect. But I think there is a pretty good foundation of some solid citizens here and I think those players needed to learn some things too. Building and improving and enhancing the character goes into development, too. Some of these young players need to learn a little bit more about football character, they need to learn better work habits. They come from big programs, they don’t know what the NFL is and when you bring in the right kind of guys and you mesh them (it’s positive), and we have some of those guys here.
“We just had a guy, G Brian Waters, who was the NFL Man of the Year. Again, talking about a personal character standpoint, but Brian is a guy who I watched go through the season last year, he had an ankle (injury) and everyone saw him go down during training camp. He came back; his football character is pretty darn strong. I think there are some other guys here, the LB Matt Vrabels, the QB Matt Cassels. I think there are a number of good people that are here. That being said we want to continue to do that because it is the foundation. Here is what happens in this game, as we all know there are good times and bad times. In bad times you have to be able to have people that you can depend on, rely upon, that instead of jumping off the ship, they are going to try and find a way to rally together. The more successful teams that I have been a part of, high school, college or professional football, the most successful teams at their core had a lot of people with strong football character and strong work ethics. Again, we are talking about character and there are different types of character here. I go back to some of the less successful teams that I was a part of and I have been on both ends of the spectrum. For the most part, the teams that were not as successful were lacking some of that.”